THE SERVIAN REPLY
"The Royal Government has received the notification of the Austro-Hungarian Government of the 10th inst., and is convinced that its answer will remove every misunderstanding that threatens to disturb the pleasant neighborly relations between the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the Servian Kingdom.
"The Royal Government is certain that in dealing with the great neighboring monarchy these protests have under no pretexts been renewed which formerly were made both in the Skupshtina and in explanations and negotiations of responsible representatives of the State, and which, through the declaration of the Servian Government of March 18, 1909, were settled; furthermore, that since that time none of the various successive Governments of the kingdom, nor any of its officers, has made an attempt to change the political and legal conditions set up in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Royal Government is certain that the Austro-Hungarian Government has made no representations of any kind along this line except in the case of a textbook concerning which the Austro-Hungarian Government received an entirely satisfactory reply. Servia, during the Balkan crisis, gave evidence in numerous cases of her pacific and temperate policies, and it will be thanks to Servia alone and the sacrifices that she alone made in the interest of European peace if that peace continue.
"The Royal Government cannot be held responsible for utterances of a private character such as newspaper articles and the peaceful work of societies, utterances which are quite ordinary in almost all countries, and which are not generally under State control, especially since the Royal Government, in the solution of a great number of questions that came up between Servia and Austria-Hungary, showed much consideration as a result of which most of these questions were settled in the best interests of the progress of the two neighboring countries.
"The Royal Government was therefore painfully surprised to hear the contention that Servian subjects had taken part in the preparations for the murder committed in Serajevo. It had hoped to be invited to cooperate in the investigations following this crime, and was prepared, in order to prove the entire correctness of its acts, to proceed against all persons concerning whom it had received information.
"In conformity with the wish of the Austro-Hungarian Government, the Royal Government is prepared to turn over to the court, regardless of station or rank, any Servian subject concerning whose participation in the crime at Serajevo proofs may be given to it. The Government pledges itself especially to publish on the first page of the official organ of July 26th the following declaration:
"'The Royal Servian Government condemns every propaganda that may be directed against Austria-Hungary; that is to say, all efforts designed ultimately to sever territory from the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, and it regrets sincerely the sad consequences of these criminal machinations.'
"The Royal Government regrets that, in accordance with advices from the Austro-Hungarian Government, certain Servian officers and functionaries are taking an active part in the present propaganda, and that they have thereby jeopardized the pleasant neighborly relations to the maintenance of which the Royal Government was formally pledged by the declaration of March 31, 1909.
"The Government (what follows here is similar to the text demanded).
"The Royal Government further pledges itself:
"1. To introduce a provision in the press law on the occasion of the next regular session of the Skupshtina, according to which instigations to hatred and contempt of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, as well as any publication directed in general against the territorial integrity of Austria-Hungary, shall be punished severely.
"The Government pledges itself, on the occasion of the coming revision of the Constitution, to add to Article XXII. a clause permitting the confiscation of publications, the confiscation of which, under the present Article XXII. of the Constitution, would be impossible.
"2. The Government possesses no proof—and the Note of the Austro-Hungarian Government provides it with none—that the 'Narodna Odbrana' Society and other similar associations have up to the present committed any criminal acts through any of their members. Nevertheless, the Royal Government will accept the demand of the Austro-Hungarian Government and dissolve the Narodna Odbrana Society, as well as all societies that may work against Austria-Hungary.
"3. The Royal Servian Government agrees to eliminate forthwith from public education in Servia everything that might help the propaganda against Austria-Hungary, provided that the Austro-Hungarian Government gives it actual proof of this propaganda.
"4. The Royal Government is also ready to discharge from military and civil service such officers—provided it is proved against them by legal investigation—who have implicated themselves in acts directed against the territorial integrity of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy; the Government expects that, for the purpose of instituting proceedings, the Austro-Hungarian Government will impart the names of these officers and employes and the acts of which they are accused.
"5. The Royal Servian Government must confess that it is not quite clear as to the sense and scope of the desire of the Austro-Hungarian Government to the effect that the Royal Servian Government bind itself to allow the cooperation within its territory of representatives of the Austro-Hungarian Government, but it nevertheless declares itself willing to permit such cooperation as might be in conformity with international law and criminal procedure, as well as with friendly neighborly relations.
"6. The Royal Government naturally holds itself bound to institute an investigation against all such persons as were concerned in the plot of June 15th-28th, or are supposed to have been concerned in it, and are on Servian soil. As to the cooperation of special delegates of the Austro-Hungarian Government in this investigation, the Servian Government cannot accept such cooperation, since this would be a violation of the laws and criminal procedure. However, in individual cases, information as to the progress of the investigation might be given to the Austro-Hungarian delegates.
"7. On the very evening on which your Note arrived the Royal Government caused the arrest of Major Voislar Tankosic. But, regarding Milan Ciganovic, who is a subject of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, and who was employed until June 15th (as candidate) in the Department of Railroads it has not been possible to arrest this man up till now, for which reason a warrant has been issued against him.
"The Austro-Hungarian Government is requested, in order that the investigation may be made as soon as possible, to make known in the specified form what grounds of suspicion exist, and the proofs of guilt collected at the investigation in Serajevo.
"8. The Servian Government will increase the severity and scope of its measures against the smuggling of arms and explosives.
"It goes without saying that it will at once start an investigation and mete out severe punishment to the frontier officials of the Sabac-Loznica line who failed in their duty and allowed those responsible for the crime to cross the frontier.
"9. The Royal Government is willing to give explanations of the statements made in interviews by its officials in Servia and foreign countries after the crime, and which, according to the Austro-Hungarian Government, were anti-Austrian, as soon as the said Government indicates where these statements were made, and provides proofs that such statements were actually made by the said officials. The Royal Government will itself take steps to collect the necessary proofs and means of transmission for this purpose.
"10. The Royal Government will, in so far as this has not already occurred in this Note, inform the Austro-Hungarian Government of the taking of the measures concerning the foregoing matters, as soon as such measures have been ordered and carried out.
It increases the ineffaceable discredit of this brutal ultimatum when we consider the relative size of the two nations. Austria has a population of over 50,000,000 and Servia about 4,000,000. Moreover, Servia had just emerged from two terrible conflicts, from which it was still bleeding to exhaustion. Austria's ultimatum was that of a Goliath to David, and, up to the hour that this book goes to press, the result has not been different from that famous conflict.
Germany itself had already given to Servia an intimation of its intended fate. It had anticipated the Austrian ultimatum by some pointed suggestions to Servia on its own account, for in the letter already quoted from Sir M. de Bunsen to Sir Edward Grey, we learn that the German Secretary of State told the British Ambassador before the ultimatum was issued that he
on several occasions, in conversation with the Servian Minister, emphasized the extreme importance that Austro-Servian relations should be put on a proper footing.
[Footnote 14: In English White Paper, No. 2.]
This pointed intimation from Germany, thus preceding the formal ultimatum from Austria, naturally gave Servia a quick appreciation that within the short space allowed by the ultimatum, it must either acquiesce in grossly unreasonable demands or perish as an independent nation.
To appreciate fully the brutality of this ultimatum let us imagine a precise analogy.
The relations of France and Germany—leaving aside the important difference of relative size—are not unlike the relations that existed between Servia and Austria. In 1908, Austria had forcibly annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina, both of them Slav countries, and when Servia had emerged from the Balko-Turkish War with signal credit to itself, it was again Austria that had intervened and deprived it of the fruit of its victories by denying it access to the sea.
Similarly, by the Treaty of Frankfort, Germany had forcibly annexed Alsace and Lorraine from France. As there existed in Servia voluntary organizations of men, which ceaselessly agitated for the recovery of Bosnia and Herzegovina, so in France similar patriotic organizations have for the last forty years continuously agitated for a war which would lead to the ultimate recovery of Alsace and Lorraine. The statue of Strassburg in the Place de la Concorde has been covered with the emblems of mourning from the time that Bismarck wrung from Jules Favre the cession of the Rhine territory. If Austria's grievance against Servia were just, Germany has an equal and similar grievance against France.
Under these circumstances let us suppose that on the occasion of the visit of the German Crown Prince to Strassburg, that an Alsatian citizen of German nationality, having strong French sympathies, had assassinated the Crown Prince, and that France had formally disclaimed any complicity in the assassination and expressed its sympathy and regret.
Mutatis mutandis, let us suppose that Germany had thereupon issued to France the same ultimatum that Austria issued to Servia, requiring France to acknowledge moral responsibility for a crime, which it steadily disavowed. The ultimatum to France in that event would have included a peremptory demand that the government of France, a proud and self-respecting country, should publish in the Official Journal, and communicate as an "order of the day" to the army of France, a statement that the French Government formally denounced all attempts to recover Alsace and Lorraine; that it regretted the participation of French officers in the murder of the German Crown Prince; that it engaged to suppress in the Press of France any expressions of hatred or contempt for Germany; that it would dissolve all patriotic societies that have for their object the recovery of the "lost provinces"; that it would eliminate from the public schools of France all instruction which served to foment feeling against Germany; that it would remove from its army all officers who had joined in the agitation against Germany; that it would accept in the courts of France the participation of German officials in determining who were guilty, either of the Strassburg murder or of the propaganda for the recovery of Alsace and Lorraine; that it would further proceed to arrest and punish certain French officers, whom the German Government charged with participating in the offensive propaganda, and that it would furnish the German Government with full explanations and information in reference to its execution of these peremptory demands.
Let us suppose that such an ultimatum having been sent, that France had been given forty-eight hours to comply with conditions which were obviously fatal to its self-respect and forever destructive of its prestige as a great Power.
Can it be questioned what the reply of France or the judgment of the world would be in such a quarrel?
Every fair-minded man would say without hesitation that such an ultimatum would be an unprecedented outrage upon the fine proprieties of civilized life.
The only difference between the two cases is the fact that in the case of Germany and France the power issuing the ultimatum would be less than double the size of that nation which it sought to coerce, while in the case of Austria and Servia, the aggressor was twelve times as powerful as the power whose moral prestige and political independence it sought to destroy.
In view of the nature of these demands, the assurance which Austria subsequently gave Russia, that she would do nothing to lessen the territory of Servia, goes for nothing. From the standpoint of Servia, it would have been far better to lose a part of its territory and keep its independence and self-respect as to the remainder, than to retain all its existing land area, and by submitting to the ultimatum become virtually a vassal state of Austria. Certainly if Servia had acquiesced fully in Austria's demands without any qualification or reservation (as for the sake of peace it almost did), then Austria would have enjoyed a moral protectorate over all of Servia's territory, and its ultimate fate might have been that of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which Austria first governed as a protectorate, and later forcibly annexed.
THE PEACE PARLEYS
The issuance of the Austrian ultimatum precipitated a grave crisis. It did not, however, present any insoluble problem. Peace could and should have been preserved. Its preservation is always possible when nations, which may be involved in a controversy, are inspired by a reasonably pacific purpose. Only when the masses of the people are inflamed with a passionate desire for war, and in a time of popular hysteria responsible statesmen are helplessly borne along the turgid flow of events as bubbles are carried by the swift current of a swollen river, is peace a visionary dream.
It is the peculiarity of the present crisis that no such popular hysteria existed. No popular demand for war developed until after it was virtually precipitated. Even then large classes of workingmen, both in Germany and France, protested.
The peoples of the various countries had scant knowledge of the issues which had been raised by their diplomats and had little, if any, interest in the Servian trouble. The chief exception to this was in Austria, where unquestionably popular feeling had been powerfully excited by the murder of the Archduke and where there had been, especially in Vienna, popular manifestations in favor of war. In Russia also there was not unnaturally a strong undercurrent of popular sympathy for Servia.
The writer was in the Engadine at the time referred to, and cosmopolitan St. Moritz, although a little place, was, in its heterogeneous population, Europe in microcosmic form. There the average man continued to enjoy his mid-summer holiday and refused to believe that so great a catastrophe was imminent until the last two fateful days in July. The citizens of all nations continued to fraternize, and were one in amazement that a war could be precipitated on causes in which the average man took so slight an interest.
Unembarrassed by any popular clamor, this war could have been prevented, and the important question presents itself to the Supreme Court of Civilization as to the moral responsibility for the failure of the negotiations.
Which of the two groups of powers sincerely worked for peace and which obstructed those efforts?
In reaching its conclusion our imaginary Court would pay little attention to mere professions of a desire for peace. A nation, like an individual, can covertly stab the peace of another while saying, "Art thou in health, my brother?" and even the peace of civilization can be betrayed by a Judas-kiss. Professions of peace belong to the cant of diplomacy and have always characterized the most bellicose of nations.
No war in modern times has been begun without the aggressor pretending that his nation wished nothing but peace, and invoking divine aid for its murderous policy. To paraphrase the words of Lady Teazle on a noted occasion, when Sir Joseph Surface talked much of "honor," it might be as well in such instances to leave the name of God out of the question.
The writer will so far anticipate the conclusions, which he thinks these records indisputably show, as to suggest the respective attitudes of the different groups of diplomats and statesmen as revealed by these papers. If the reader will realize fully the policy which from the first animated Germany and Austria, then the documents hereinafter quoted will acquire new significance.
Germany and Austria had determined to impose their will upon Servia, even though it involved a European war. From the outset they clearly recognized such a possibility and were willing to accept the responsibility.
The object to be gained was something more than a neutralization of the pro-Slav propaganda. It was to subject Servia to such severe punitive measures that thereafter her independence of will and moral sovereignty would be largely impaired, if not altogether destroyed. To do this it was not enough to have Servia take measures to prevent pro-Slav agitation within her borders. Austria neither wanted nor expected the acceptance of her impossible ultimatum.
It planned to submit such an ultimatum as Servia could not possibly accept and, to make this result doubly sure, it was thought desirable to give not only Servia but Europe the minimum time to take any preventive measures. Giving to Servia only forty-eight hours within which to reach a decision and to Europe barely twenty-four hours to protect the peace of the world, it was thought that Servia would do one of two things, either of which would be of incalculable importance to Germany and Austria.
If Servia accepted the ultimatum for lack of time to consider it, then its self-respect was hopelessly compromised and its independence largely destroyed. Thenceforth she would be, at least morally, a mere vassal of Austria.
If, however, Servia declined to accept the ultimatum, then war would immediately begin and Servia would be, as was thought, speedily subjected to punitive measures of such a drastic character that the same result would be attained.
From the commencement, both Germany and Austria recognized the possibility that Russia might intervene to protect Servia. To prevent this it was important that Russia and her allies of the Triple Entente should be given as little time as possible to consider their action, and it was thought that this would probably lead to Russia's acquiescence in the punishment of Servia and, if so, France and England, having no direct interest in Servia, would also undoubtedly acquiesce.
If, however, slow-moving Russia, instead of acquiescing, as she did in 1908 in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, should take up the gauntlet which Germany and Austria had thrown down, then it was all important to Germany and Austria that Russia should seem to be the aggressor.
For this there were two substantial reasons: the one was Italy and the other was England. Germany and Austria desired the cooperation of Italy and could not claim it as of right under the terms of the Triple Alliance, unless they were attacked. Upon the other hand, if England believed that Russia and France had declared war upon Germany and Austria, there was little probability of her intervention. For these reasons it was important that Germany and Austria should impress both England and Italy that their purposes were sincerely pacific and that on the other hand they should so clearly provoke Russia and France that those nations would declare war.
If the reader will keep this Janus-faced policy steadily in mind, he will understand the apparent inconsistencies in the diplomatic representations of the German Foreign Office. He will understand why Germany and Austria, while at times flouting Russia in the most flagrant manner and refusing her the common courtesies of diplomatic intercourse, were at the same time giving to England the most emphatic assurance of pacific intentions.
With this preliminary statement, let the record speak for itself. We have seen that the first great, and as events proved, fatal obstacle to peace which Germany interposed was practically contemporaneous with the issuance of the ultimatum. Germany did not wait for any efforts at conciliation. On the contrary, it attempted to bar effectually all such efforts by serving notice upon France, England, and Russia almost simultaneously with the issuance of the Austrian ultimatum,
that the acts as well as the demands of the Austro-Hungarian Government cannot but be looked upon as justified;
and the communication concluded:
We strongly desire that the dispute be localized, since any intervention of any Power on account of the various alliance obligations would bring consequences impossible to measure.
[Footnote 15: German White Paper, Annex, 1 B.]
This had only one meaning. Austria was to be left to discipline Servia at will, or there would be war. Germany did not even wait for any suggestion of intervention, whether conciliatory or otherwise, but sought to interpose to any plan of peace, short of complete submission, an insuperable barrier by this threat of war. With this pointed threat to Europe, the next move was that of Russia, and it may be remarked that throughout the entire negotiations Russian diplomacy was more than equal to that of Germany.
Russia contented itself in the first instance by stating on the morning of July 24th, that Russia could not remain indifferent to the Austro-Servian conflict. This attitude could not surprise any one, for Russia's interest in the Balkans was well known and its legitimate concern in the future of any Slav state was, as Sir Edward Grey had said in Parliament in March, 1913, "a commonplace in European diplomacy in the past."
With this simple statement of its legitimate interest in a matter affecting the balance of power in Europe, Russia, instead of issuing an ultimatum or declaring war, as Germany and Austria may have hoped, joined with England in asking for a reasonable extension of time for all the Powers to concert for the preservation of peace. On July 24th, the very day that the Austrian ultimatum had reached St. Petersburg, the Russian Foreign Minister transmitted to the Austrian Government through its Charge in Vienna the following communication:
The communication of the Austro-Hungarian Government to the Powers the day after the presentation of the ultimatum to Belgrade leaves to the Powers a delay entirely insufficient to undertake any useful steps whatever for the straightening out of the complications that have arisen. To prevent the incalculable consequences, equally disastrous for all the Powers, which can follow the method of action of the Austro-Hungarian Government, it seems indispensable to us that above all the delay given to Servia to reply should be extended. Austria-Hungary, declaring herself disposed to inform the Powers of the results of the inquiry upon which the Imperial and Royal Government bases its accusations, should at least give them also the time to take note of them (de s'en rendre compte). In this case, if the Powers should convince themselves of the well-groundedness of certain of the Austrian demands they would find themselves in a position to send to the Servian Government consequential advice. A refusal to extend the terms of the ultimatum would deprive of all value the step taken by the Austro-Hungarian Government in regard to the Powers and would be in contradiction with the very bases of international relations.
[Footnote 16: Russian Orange Paper, No. 4.]
Could any court question the justice of this contention? The peace of the world was at stake. Time only was asked to see what could be done to preserve that peace and satisfy Austria's grievances to the uttermost.
Germany had only to intimate to Austria that "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind," as well as common courtesy to great and friendly nations, required that sufficient time be given not only to Servia, but to the other nations, to concert for the common good, especially as the period was one of mid-summer dullness, and many of the leading rulers and statesmen were absent from their respective capitals.
If Germany made any communication to Austria in the interests of peace the text has yet to be disclosed to the world. A word from Berlin to Vienna would have given the additional time which, with sincerely pacific intentions, might have resulted in the preservation of peace. Germany, so far as the record discloses, never spoke that word.
England had already anticipated the request of Russia that a reasonable time should be given to all interested parties. When the Austrian Minister in London handed the ultimatum to Sir Edward Grey on July the 24th, the following conversation took place, which speaks for itself:
In the ensuing conversation with his Excellency I (Sir Edward Grey) remarked that it seemed to me a matter for great regret that a time limit, and such a short one at that, had been insisted upon at this stage of the proceedings. The murder of the Archduke and some of the circumstances respecting Servia quoted in the note aroused sympathy with Austria, as was but natural, but at the same time I had never before seen one State address to another independent State a document of so formidable a character. Count Mensdorff replied that the present situation might never have arisen if Servia had held out a hand after the murder of the Archduke. Servia had, however, shown no sign of sympathy or help, though some weeks had already elapsed since the murder; a time limit, said his Excellency, was essential, owing to the procrastination on Servia's part.
I said that if Servia had procrastinated in replying a time limit could have been introduced later; but, as things now stood, the terms of the Servian reply had been dictated by Austria, who had not been content to limit herself to a demand for a reply within a limit of forty-eight hours from its presentation.
Unfortunately both Russia and England's requests for time were refused, on the plea that they had reached the Austrian Foreign Minister too late, although it has never yet been explained why, even if Count Berchtold were unable to take up the requests before the expiration of the ultimatum, the matter might not have been reopened for a few days by a corresponding extension of the time limit.
In the absence of some explanation, which as yet remains to be made, the absence of the Austrian Premier from Vienna at the time intervening between the issuance of the ultimatum and the expiration of the time limit seems like an extraordinarily petty piece of diplomatic finesse. He had without any warning to the great Powers of Europe, launched a thunderbolt, and if there ever was a time when a pacific foreign minister should have been at his post and open to suggestions of peace, it was in those two critical days. And yet, after issuing the ultimatum, he immediately takes himself beyond reach of personal parleys by going to Ischl, and this was taken by the German Foreign Office as a convenient excuse for an anticipated failure to extend this courtesy to Russia and England. Upon this we have the testimony of the English Ambassador at Berlin, who in his report to Sir Edward Grey, dated July 25th, says:
[The German] Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs says that on receipt of a telegram at ten o'clock this morning from German Ambassador at London, he immediately instructed German Ambassador at Vienna to pass on to the Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs your suggestion, for an extension of time limit, and to speak to his Excellency about it. Unfortunately it appeared from the press that Count Berchtold is at Ischl, and Secretary of State thought that in these circumstances there would be delay and difficulty in getting time limit extended. Secretary of State said that he did not know what Austria-Hungary had ready on the spot, but he admitted quite freely that Austro-Hungarian Government wished to give the Servians a lesson, and that they meant to take military action. He also admitted that Servian Government could not swallow certain of the Austro-Hungarian demands....
A like excuse is found in a conversation with the Russian Charge at Berlin, in which Bethmann-Hollweg expressed the fear "that in consequence of the absence of Berchtold at Ischl, and seeing the lack of time, his (Bethmann-Hollweg's telegrams suggesting delay) will remain without result."
[Footnote 17: Russian Orange Paper, No. 14.]
These conversations are most illuminating. They refer to instructions to the German Ambassador in Vienna, which are not found in the German White Paper, although they would have thrown a searchlight upon the sincerity with which Germany "passed on" the most important request of England and Russia for a little time to save the peace of Europe, and it strongly suggests the possibility that Count Berchtold's most inopportune absence in Ischl was to be the excuse for the gross discourtesy of refusing to give any extension of time.
Kudachef, the Russian Charge at Vienna, did not content himself with submitting the request to the Acting Foreign Minister (Baron Macchio) but to deprive Austria of the flimsy excuse of Berchtold's absence at Ischl, the Russian Charge went over the head of the Austrian Acting Foreign Minister and telegraphed the request for time to Count Berchtold at Ischl. Let the record tell for itself how this most reasonable request was made and refused.
The Russian Charge sent on July 25th the two following telegrams to the Russian Foreign Minister:
Count Berchtold is at Ischl. Seeing the impossibility of arriving there in time, I have telegraphed him our proposal to extend the delay of the ultimatum, and I have repeated it verbally to Baron Macchio. This latter promised me to communicate it in time to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, but added that he could predict with assurance a categorical refusal.
[Footnote 18: Russian Orange Paper, No. 11.]
Sequel to my telegram of to-day. Have just received from Macchio the negative reply of the Austro-Hungarian Government to our proposal to prolong the delay of the note.
[Footnote 19: Russian Orange Paper, No. 12.]
It is evident from the Russian Orange Paper that that country had no illusions as to the possibility of a peaceful outcome. Germany has contended that on July the 24th, before Count Berchtold made his inopportune visit to Ischl, he sent for the Russian Charge at Vienna and assured him that the punitive measures which Austria had determined to take against Servia at all costs would not involve any territorial acquisitions.
Of this interview the chief evidence comes indirectly from two sources, which are not entirely in accord.
In a telegram from the German Ambassador at Vienna to the German Chancellor, dated July 24th, it is said:
Count Berchtold to-day summoned the Russian Charge d'Affaires in order to explain to him in detail and in friendly terms the position of Austria regarding Servia. After going over the historical developments of the last few years, he laid stress on the statement that the monarchy did not wish to appear against Servia in the role of a conqueror. He said that Austria-Hungary would demand no territory, that the step was merely a definitive measure against Servian machinations; that Austria-Hungary felt herself obliged to exact guarantees for the future friendly behavior of Servia toward the monarchy; that he had no intention of bringing about a shifting of the balance of power in the Balkans. The Charge d'Affaires, who as yet had no instructions from St. Petersburg, took the explanations of the Minister ad referendum adding that he would immediately transmit them to Sazonof.
[Footnote 20: German White Paper, No. 3.]
In a report of the same interview from the English Ambassador at Vienna to Sir Edward Grey, it is said:
Russian Charge d'Affaires was received this morning by Minister for Foreign Affairs, and said to him, as his own personal view, that Austrian note was drawn up in a form rendering it impossible of acceptance as it stood, and that it was both unusual and peremptory in its terms. Minister of Foreign Affairs replied that Austrian Minister was under instructions to leave Belgrade unless Austrian demands were accepted integrally by 4 P.M. to-morrow. His Excellency added that Dual Monarchy felt that its very existence was at stake; and that the step taken had caused great satisfaction throughout the country. He did not think that objections to what had been done could be raised by any power.
[Footnote 21: English White Papers, No. 7.]
It will be noted that in the report of the English Ambassador there is no suggestion of any disclaimer of an intention to take Servian territory.
In the Russian Orange Paper, we find no report from its representative at Vienna of any such interview and Austria has never produced any document or memorandum either of such an interview or of such a concession to Russia. It is probable that such a concession was made, as Germany contends, and if so, Russian diplomacy was far too keen to be led upon a false trail by this empty promise and as the evidences multiplied that Austria would not consider either an extension of time or any modification of its terms and that Germany was acting in complete accord and cooperated with her Ally, the probability of war was unmistakable.
Sazonof at once sent for the English and French Ambassadors, and the substance of the conference is embodied in the telegram from the British Ambassador at St. Petersburg to Sir Edward Grey, dated July 24th, which throws a strong light upon the double effort of Russia and France to preserve the peace and also as an obvious necessity to prepare for the more probable issue of war:
Minister for Foreign Affairs said that Austria's conduct was both provocative and immoral; she would never have taken such action unless Germany had first been consulted; some of her demands were quite impossible of acceptance. He hoped that his Majesty's Government would not fail to proclaim their solidarity with Russia and France.
The French Ambassador gave me to understand that France would fulfill all the obligations entailed by her alliance with Russia, if necessity arose, besides supporting Russia strongly in any diplomatic negotiations.
I said that I would telegraph a full report to you of what their Excellencies had just said to me. I could not, of course, speak in the name of his Majesty's Government, but personally I saw no reason to expect any declaration of solidarity from his Majesty's Government that would entail an unconditional engagement on their part to support Russia and France by force of arms. Direct British interests in Servia were nil, and a war on behalf of that country would never be sanctioned by British public opinion. To this M. Sazonof replied that we must not forget that the general European question was involved, the Servian question being but a part of the former, and that Great Britain could not afford to efface herself from the problems now at issue.
In reply to these remarks I observed that I gathered from what he said that his Excellency was suggesting that Great Britain should join in making a communication to Austria to the effect that active intervention by her in the internal affairs of Servia could not be tolerated. But, supposing Austria nevertheless proceeded to embark on military measures against Servia in spite of our representations, was it the intention of the Russian Government forthwith to declare war on Austria?
M. Sazonof said that he himself thought that Russian mobilization would at any rate have to be carried out; but a council of ministers was being held this afternoon to consider the whole question. A further council would be held, probably to-morrow, at which the Emperor would preside, when a decision would be come to....
Had England then followed the sagacious suggestion of Sazonof, would war have been averted?
Possibly, perhaps probably. Germany's principal fear was the intervention of England. In view of its supremacy on the seas this was natural. It was England's intimation in the Moroccan crisis of 1911, made in Lloyd George's Mansion House speech, which at that time induced Germany to reverse the engines. Might not the same intimation in 1914 have had a like effect upon the mad counsels of Potsdam? The answer can only be a matter of conjecture. It depends largely upon how deep-seated the purpose of Germany may have been to provoke a European war at a time when Russia, France, or England were not fully prepared.
It does not follow that if Sazonof was right, Sir Edward Grey was necessarily wrong in declining to align England definitely with Russia and France at that stage. He was the servant of a democratic nation and could not ignore the public opinion of his country as freely as the Russian Foreign Minister. To take such a course, it would have been necessary for Grey to submit the matter to Parliament, and while with a large liberal majority his policy might have been endorsed, yet it would have been after such an acrimonious discussion and such vehement protests that England would have stood before the world "as a house divided against itself."
Both Sazonof and Sir Edward Grey from their respective standpoints were right. Neither made a single false step in the great controversy.
As a result of this interview, Russia, England, and France, after the request for time had been abruptly refused, next proceeded in the interests of peace to persuade Servia to make as conciliatory a reply to the impossible ultimatum as was possible without a fatal compromise of her political independence.
While the lack of time prevented France and Russia from making any formal communication to Servia on the question, yet Sazonof had a conference with the Servian Minister and discussed the wisdom of avoiding an attack on Belgrade by having the Servian forces withdrawn to the interior and then appealing to the Powers, and Russia thereupon made the broad and magnanimous suggestion that if Servia should appeal to the Powers, Russia would be quite ready to stand aside and leave the question in the hands of England, France, Germany, and Italy.
This interview, as reported by the British Ambassador at St. Petersburg to Sir Edward Grey, dated July 25th, is as follows:
I saw the Minister for Foreign Affairs this morning, and communicated to his Excellency the substance of your telegram of to-day to Paris, and this afternoon, I discussed with him the communication which the French Ambassador suggested should be made to the Servian Government, as recorded in your telegram of yesterday to Belgrade....
The Minister for Foreign Affairs said that Servia was quite ready to do as you had suggested and to punish those proved to be guilty, but that no independent State could be expected to accept the political demands which had been put forward. The Minister for Foreign Affairs thought, from a conversation which he had with the Servian Minister yesterday, that in the event of the Austrians attacking Servia, the Servian Government would abandon Belgrade and withdraw their forces into the interior, while they would at the same time appeal to the Powers to help them. His Excellency was in favor of their making this appeal. He would like to see the question placed on an international footing, as the obligations taken by Servia in 1908, to which reference is made in the Austrian ultimatum, were given not to Austria, but to the Powers.
If Servia should appeal to the Powers, Russia would be quite ready to stand aside and leave the question in the hands of England, France, Germany, and Italy. It was possible, in his opinion, that Servia might propose to submit the question to arbitration.
Pursuant to this policy of conciliation Sir Edward Grey in direct communication with the Servian Minister at London, Mr. Crackenthorpe, the British Ambassador at Belgrade, in direct communication with the Servian Foreign Ministry, and Sazonof in interviews with the Servian Minister at St. Petersburg, all brought direct influence upon Servia to make a conciliatory reply.
Thus Sir Edward Grey instructed Crackenthorpe:
Servia ought to promise that if it is proved that Servian officials, however subordinate they may be, were accomplices in the murder of the Archduke at Serajevo, she will give Austria the fullest satisfaction. She certainly ought to express concern and regret. For the rest, Servian Government must reply to Austrian demands as they consider best in Servian interests.
It is impossible to say whether military action by Austria when time limit expires can be averted by anything but unconditional acceptance of her demands, but only chance appears to lie in avoiding an absolute refusal and replying favorably to as many points as the time limit allows....
I have urged upon the German Ambassador that Austria should not precipitate military action.
[Footnote 22: English White Paper, No. 12.]
In response to these suggestions, Mr. Crackenthorpe communicated Sir Edward Grey's pacific suggestions to the Servian Minister and received the following reply, as reported in Crackenthorpe's report to Sir Edward Grey, dated July 25th.
The Council of Ministers is now drawing up their reply to the Austrian note. I am informed by the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs that it will be most conciliatory and will meet the Austrian demands in as large a measure as is possible....
The Servian Government consider that, unless the Austrian Government want war at any cost, they cannot but be content with the full satisfaction offered in the Servian reply.
[Footnote 23: English White Paper, No. 21.]
These pacific suggestions to Servia met with complete success, and as a result that country on July 25th, and before the expiration of the ultimatum, made a reply to Austria which astonished the world with its spirit of conciliation and for a short time gave rise to optimistic hopes of peace.
At some sacrifice of its self-respect as a sovereign State, it accepted substantially the demands of Austria, with a few minor reservations, which it expressed its willingness to refer either to arbitration at The Hague Tribunal or to a conference of the Powers.
[Footnote 24: English White Paper, No. 39.]
Neither Germany nor Austria seriously contended that the reply was not on its face a substantial acquiescence in the extreme Austrian demands. They contented themselves with impeaching the sincerity of the assurances, calling the concessions "shams." Unless Austria, in asking assurances from Servia, were content to accept them as made in good faith and allow their sincerity to be determined by future deeds, why should the ultimatum, calling for such assurances, have been made? If Germany and Austria had accepted Servia's reply as sufficient, and Servia had subsequently failed to fulfill its promises in the utmost good faith, there would have been little sympathy for Servia, and no general war. Russia and England pledged their influence to compel Servia, if necessary, to meet fully any reasonable demand of Austria. The principal outstanding question, which Servia agreed to arbitrate or leave to the Powers, was the participation of Austrian officials in the Servian courts. This did not present a difficult problem. Austria's professed desire for an impartial investigation could have been easily attained by having the Powers appoint a commission of neutral jurists to make such investigation.
In any event, Austria could have accepted the very substantial concessions of Servia and without prejudice to its rights proceeded to The Hague Tribunal or to a concert of the Powers as to the few and comparatively simple open points. When one recalls the infinite treasure of property and life, which would thus have been saved the world, had Germany and Austria accepted this reasonable and pacific course, one can only exclaim, "But oh, the pity of it!"
It is significant that while the entire official German press gave ample space to the Austrian ultimatum and rejoiced in Austria's energetic attitude, it withheld from the German people any adequate information as to the conciliatory nature of the Servian reply, for the Russian Charge at Berlin telegraphed to Sazonof:
The Wolff Bureau has not published the text of the Servian response which was communicated to it. Up to this moment this note has not appeared in extenso in any of local journals, which according to all the evidence do not wish to give it a place in their columns, understanding the calming effect which this publication would produce upon the German readers.
[Footnote 25: Russian Orange Paper, No. 46.]
Instead of getting the truth, the Berlin populace proceeded to make riotous demonstrations against the Russian and Servian Embassies.
The time limit on the ultimatum expired on July the 25th at six o'clock in the evening.
There is no more significant and at the same time discreditable feature of an infinitely discreditable chapter in history than that the Austrian Government, without giving the Servian answer the consideration even of a single hour, immediately severed all diplomatic intercourse with Belgrade and at 6.30 P.M. the Minister of Austria
informed the Servian Government by note that, not having received within the delay fixed a satisfactory response, he is leaving Belgrade with the whole personnel of the legation.
On the same night Austria ordered the mobilization of a considerable part of its army.
Notwithstanding these rebuffs, England, France, and Russia continued to labor for peace, and made further pacific suggestions, all of which fell upon deaf ears.
On July 25th, Sir Edward Grey proposed that the four Powers (England, France, Italy, and Germany) should unite
in asking the Austrian and Russian Governments not to cross the frontier and to give time for the four Powers, acting at Vienna and St. Petersburg, to try and arrange matters. If Germany will adopt this view I feel strongly that France and ourselves should act upon it. Italy would no doubt gladly cooperate.
[Footnote 26: English White Paper, Nos. 24 and 25.]
To this reasonable request the German Chancellor replied:
The distinction made by Sir Edward Grey between the Austro-Servian and Austro-Russian conflict is quite correct. We wish as little as England to mix in the first, and, first and last, we take the ground that this question must be localized by the abstention of all the Powers from intervention in it. It is therefore our earnest hope that Russia will refrain from any active intervention, conscious of her responsibility and of the seriousness of the situation. If an Austro-Russian dispute should arise, we are ready, with the reservation of our known duties as Allies, to cooperate with the other great Powers in mediation between Russia and Austria.
[Footnote 27: German White Paper, Exhibit 13.]
This distinction is hard to grasp. It attempts to measure the difference between tweedledum and tweedledee. Russia's current difference with Austria concerned the attempt of the latter to crush Servia without interference. Russia claimed such right of intervention. Germany would not interfere in the former matter, but would abstractly but not concretely mediate between Russia and Austria in the latter. Mediate about what? To refuse to mediate over the Servian question was to refuse to mediate at all. For all practical purposes the two things were indistinguishable.
All that Germany did on July 25th, so far as the record discloses, was to "pass on" England's and Russia's requests for more time, but subsequent events indicate that it was "passed on" without any endorsement, for is it credible that Austria would have ignored its ally's request for more time if it had ever been made? Here again we note with disappointment the absence from the record of Germany's message to Austria, "passing on" the reasonable request for an extension of time. The result indicates that the request received, if any endorsement, the "faint praise" which is said to "damn."
Was ever the peace of the world shattered upon so slight a pretext? A little time, a few days, even a few hours, might have sufficed to preserve the world from present horrors, but no time could be granted. A snap judgment was to be taken by these pettifogging diplomats. The peace of the world was to be torpedoed by submarine diplomacy. The Austrian Government could wait nearly three months to try the assassin, who admittedly slew the Austrian Archduke, but could not wait even a few hours before condemning Servia to political death. It could not grant Russia any time to consider a matter gravely affecting its interests, even if the peace of Europe and the happiness of the world depended on it. It would be difficult to find in recorded history a greater discourtesy to a friendly Power, for Austria was not at war with Russia.
Defeated in their effort to get an extension of time, England, France, and Russia made further attempts to preserve peace by temporarily arresting military proceedings until further efforts toward conciliation could be made. Sir Edward Grey proposed to Germany, France, Russia, and Italy that they should unite in asking Austria and Servia not to cross the frontier "until we had had time to try and arrange matters between them," but the German Ambassador read Sir Edward Grey a telegram that he had received from the German Foreign Office saying
that his Government had not known beforehand, and had had no more than other Powers to do with the stiff terms of the Austrian note to Servia, but that once she had launched that note, Austria could not draw back. Prince Lichnowsky said, however, that if what I contemplated was mediation between Austria and Russia, Austria might be able with dignity to accept it. He expressed himself as personally favorable to this suggestion.
It will be noted that Germany thus gave to England, as it had already given to Russia and France in the most unequivocal terms, a disclaimer of any responsibility for the Austrian ultimatum, but we have already seen that when the German Foreign Office prepared its statement for the German nation, which was circulated in the Reichstag on August 4th, Germany confessed the insincerity of these assurances by admitting that before the ultimatum was issued the Austrian Government had advised the German Foreign Office of its intentions and asked its opinion and that
we were able to assure our ally most heartily of our agreement with her view of the situation and to assure her that any action that she might consider it necessary to take ... would receive our approval.
Here again it is to be noted that the telegram, which the German Foreign Office sent to Prince Lichnowsky, and which that diplomat simply read to Sir Edward Grey, is not set forth in the exhibits to the German White Paper.
As we have seen, Germany never, so far as the record discloses, sought in any way to influence Austria to make this or any concession until after the Kaiser's return from Norway and then only if we accept the assurances of its Foreign Office which are not supported by official documents. Its attitude was shown by the declaration of its Ambassador at Paris to the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, which, while again disclaiming that Germany had countenanced the Austrian ultimatum, yet added that Germany "approved" its point of view,
and that certainly, the arrow once sent, Germany could not allow herself to be guided except by her duty as ally.
[Footnote 28: Russian Orange Paper, No. 19.]
This seemed to be the fatal error of Germany, that its duties to civilization were so slight that it should support its ally, Austria, whether the latter were right or wrong. Such was its policy, and it carried it out with fatal consistency. To support its ally in actual war without respect to the justice of the quarrel may be defensible, but to support it in a time of peace in an iniquitous demand and a policy of gross discourtesy to friendly States offends every sense of international morality.
On the following day Russia proposed to Austria that they should enter into an exchange of private views, with the object of an alteration in common of some clauses of the Austrian ultimatum. To this Austria never even replied.
The Russian Minister communicated this suggestion to the German Minister for Foreign Affairs and expressed the hope that he would "find it possible to advise Vienna to meet our proposal," but this did not accord with German policy, for on that day the German Ambassador in Paris called upon the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, and submitted the following formal declaration:
"Austria has declared to Russia that she does not seek territorial acquisitions, and that she does not threaten the integrity of Servia. Her only object is to insure her own tranquillity. Consequently it rests with Russia to avoid war. Germany feels herself at one with France in her keen desire to preserve the peace, and strongly hopes that France will use her influence at St. Petersburg in the direction of moderation." The [French] Minister observed that Germany could on her side take similar steps at Vienna, especially in view of the conciliatory spirit which Servia had shown. The Ambassador answered that that was not possible, in view of the resolution taken not to interfere in the Austro-Servian conflict. Thereupon the Minister asked if the four Powers—England, Germany, Italy, and France—were not able to take steps at St. Petersburg and Vienna, since the affair reduced itself in essentials to a conflict between Russia and Austria. The Ambassador pleaded the absence of instructions. Finally, the Minister refused to adhere to the German proposal.
[Footnote 29: Russian Orange Paper, No. 28.]
This significant interview states the consistent attitude of Germany. The burden is put upon France to induce its ally to desist from any intervention and thus give Austria a free hand, while Germany emphatically declines to promote the same pacific object by suggesting to Austria a more conciliatory course.
On the same day England asked France, Italy, and Germany to meet in London for an immediate conference to preserve the peace of Europe, and to this fruitful suggestion, which might have saved that peace, the German Secretary of State, after conferring with the British Ambassador at Berlin, replied that the conference
would practically amount to a court of arbitration and could not, in his opinion, be called together except at the request of Austria and Russia. He could not, therefore, fall in with your [Sir Edward Grey's] suggestion, desirous though he was to cooperate for the maintenance of peace. I [Sir E. Goschen] said I was sure that your idea had nothing to do with arbitration, but meant that representatives of the four nations not directly interested should discuss and suggest means for avoiding a dangerous situation. He [von Jagow] maintained, however, that such a conference as you proposed was not practicable.
[Footnote 30: English White Paper, No. 43.]
Germany's refusal to have Servia's case submitted to the Powers even for their consideration is the more striking when it is recalled that on the same day the German Ambassador at London quoted the German Secretary of State as saying
that there were some things in the Austrian note that Servia could hardly be expected to accept,
thus recognizing that Austria's ultimatum was, at least in part, unjust. Sir Edward Grey then called the German Ambassador's attention to the fact that if Austria refused the conciliatory reply of Servia and marched into that country
it meant that she was determined to crush Servia at all costs, being reckless of the consequences that might be involved.
He added that the Servian reply
should at least be treated as a basis for discussion and pause,
and asked that the German Government should urge this at Vienna but, as we have already seen, the German Secretary of State had already replied that such a conference "was not practicable," and that it "would practically amount to a court of arbitration," and could not, in his opinion, be called together "except at the request of Austria and Russia."
[Footnote 31: English White Paper, No. 16.]
That this was a mere evasion is perfectly plain. Germany already knew that Austria would not ask for such a conference, for Austria had already refused Russia's request for an extension of time and had actually commenced its military operations.
Germany's attitude is again clearly indicated by the letter of the Russian Minister in Germany to the Russian Foreign Office in which he states that on July 27th he called at the German Foreign Office and asked it,
to urge upon Vienna in a more pressing fashion to take up this line of conciliation. Von Jagow replied that he could not advise Austria to yield.
[Footnote 32: Russian Orange Paper, No. 38.]
Why not? Russia and its allies had advised Servia to yield and Servia had conceded nearly every claim. Why could not the German Foreign Office advise Vienna to meet conciliation by conciliation, if its desire for peace were sincere?
Before this interview took place, the French Ambassador had called at the German Foreign Office on a similar errand and urged the English suggestion that action should at once be taken by England, Germany, Russia, and France at St. Petersburg and Vienna, to the effect that Austria and Servia
should abstain from any act which might aggravate the situation at the present hour.
By this was meant that there should be, pending further parleys, no invasion of Servia by Austria and none of Austria by Russia. To this the German Foreign Minister opposed a categorical refusal.
On the same day the Russian Ambassador at Vienna had "a long and earnest conversation" with the Austrian Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He expressed the earnest hope that
something would be done before Servia was actually invaded. Baron Macchio replied that this would now be difficult, as a skirmish had already taken place on the Danube, in which the Servians had been aggressors.
The Russian Ambassador then said that his country would do all it could to keep the Servians quiet, "and even to fall back before an Austrian advance in order to gain time."
He urged that the Austrian Ambassador at St. Petersburg should be furnished with full powers to continue discussions with the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs,
who was very willing to advise Servia to yield all that could be fairly asked of her as an independent Power.
The only reply to this reasonable suggestion was that it would be submitted to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
[Footnote 33: English White Paper, No. 56.]
On the same day the German Ambassador at Paris called upon the French Foreign Office and "strongly insisted on the exclusion of all possibility of mediation or a conference"; and yet contemporaneously the Imperial German Chancellor was advising London that he had
started the efforts towards mediation in Vienna, immediately in the way desired by Sir Edward Grey, and had further communicated to the Austrian Foreign Minister the wish of the Russian Foreign Minister for a direct talk in Vienna.
[Footnote 34: Russian Orange Paper, No. 34.]
What hypocrisy! In the formal German defense, the German Foreign Office, after stating its conviction
that an act of mediation could not take into consideration the Austro-Servian conflict, which was purely an Austro-Hungarian affair,
claimed that Germany had transmitted Sir Edward Grey's further suggestion to Vienna, in which Austro-Hungary was urged
either to agree to accept the Servian answer as sufficient or to look upon it as a basis for further conversations;
but the Austro-Hungarian Government—playing the role of the wicked partner of the combination—"in full appreciation of our mediatory activity" (so says the German White Paper with sardonic humor), replied to this proposition that, coming after the opening of hostilities, "it was too late."
Can it be fairly questioned that if Germany had done something more than merely "transmit" these wise and pacific suggestions, Austria would have complied with the suggestions of its powerful ally or that Austria would have suspended its military operations if Germany had given any intimation of such a wish?
On the following day, July 28th, the door was further closed on any possibility of compromise, when the Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs
said, quietly, but firmly, that no discussion could be accepted on the basis of the Servian note; that war would be declared to-day, and that the well-known pacific character of the Emperor, as well as, he might add, his own, might be accepted as a guarantee that the war was both just and inevitable; that this was a matter that must be settled directly between the two parties immediately concerned.
To this arrogant and unreasonable contention that Europe must accept the guarantee of the Austrian Foreign Minister as to the righteousness of Austria's quarrel, the British Ambassador suggested "the larger aspect of the question," namely, the peace of Europe, and to this "larger aspect," which should have given any reasonable official some ground for pause, the Austrian Foreign Minister replied that he
had it also in mind, but thought that Russia ought not to oppose operations like those impending, which did not aim at territorial aggrandizement, and which could no longer be postponed.
[Footnote 35: English White Paper, No. 62.]
The private conversations between Russia and Austria having thus failed, Russia returned to the proposition of a European conference to preserve its peace. Its Ambassador in Vienna on July 28th had a further conference with Berchtold and again earnestly pleaded for peace on the basis of friendly relations not only between Austria and Servia but between Austria and Russia. The conversation in the light of present developments is so significant that it bears quotation in extenso:
I pointed out to him in the most friendly terms how much it was desirable to find a solution which, while consolidating the good relations between Austria-Hungary and Russia, should give to the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy serious guarantees for its future relations with Servia.
I called the attention of Count Berchtold to all the dangers to the peace of Europe which would be brought about by an armed conflict between Austria-Hungary and Servia.
Count Berchtold replied that he understood perfectly well the seriousness of the situation and the advantages of a frank explanation with the Cabinet of St. Petersburg. He told me that on the other hand the Austro-Hungarian Government, which had only reluctantly decided upon the energetic measures which it had taken against Servia, could now neither withdraw nor enter upon any discussion of the terms of the Austro-Hungarian note.
Count Berchtold added that the crisis had become so acute and that public opinion had been excited to such a degree that the Government, even if it desired, could no longer consent to it, all the less, he said to me, because the very reply of Servia gave proof of the lack of sincerity in its promises for the future.
On the same day, July 28th, the German Imperial Chancellor sent for the English Ambassador and excused his failure to accept the proposed conference of the neutral Powers, on the ground that he did not think it would be effective,
because such a conference would, in his opinion, have the appearance of an "Areopagus" consisting of two Powers of each group sitting in judgment upon the two remaining Powers.
After engaging in this narrow and insincere quibble, and, being reminded of Servia's conciliatory reply,
his Excellency said that he did not wish to discuss the Servian note, but that Austria's standpoint, and in this he agreed, was that her quarrel with Servia was a purely Austrian concern, with which Russia had nothing to do.
[Footnote 36: English White Paper, No. 71.]
At this stage of the controversy it will be noted that every proposal to preserve peace had come from the Triple Entente and that every such proposal had met with an uncompromising negative from Austria, and either that or obstructive quibbles from Germany.
THE ATTITUDE OF FRANCE
Before proceeding to record the second and final stage in the peace parleys, in which the German Kaiser became the protagonist, it is desirable to interpolate the additional data, which the French Yellow Book has given to the world since the preceding chapter was written and the first editions of this book were printed. This can be done with little sacrifice to the chronological sequence of this narrative.
The evidence of the Yellow Book is fuller in scope and greater in detail than the other governmental publications, and while largely cumulative in its character, it serves to bring into a sharper light certain phases of this extraordinary controversy.
It has been prepared with great care by M. Jules Cambon, who was the French Ambassador at Berlin during the controversy, and MM. de Margerie and Berthelot, experienced and influential diplomats in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It consists of 160 documents, classified into seven chapters, each dealing with different periods of time in the great controversy. The delay in its presentation is somewhat compensated by the exceptional fullness of the data which is thus submitted to the scrutiny of a candid world.
The French Yellow Book confirms the impression that France was most fortunate in having entrusted its interests at the difficult post of Berlin in this great crisis to so distinguished and experienced a diplomat as M. Jules Cambon.
Throughout the whole controversy the impartial reader is deeply impressed with the fact, which the more candid apologists for Germany are themselves disposed to admit, that Germany's chief weakness lay in its incapable diplomatic representatives. An interesting subject for conjecture suggests itself as to what would have happened if Prince Bismarck had been at the helm at this critical juncture. His guiding principles of statecraft with reference to foreign relations were to isolate the enemy, make him the apparent aggressor, and then crush him as effectually and speedily as possible. He never would have initiated this war. His nature was that of the fox as well as the lion.
In the years that have succeeded his dismissal, a certain dry rot, due to the tendency of the Prussian Government to distribute its diplomatic offices among highborn but incompetent Junkers,—une petite gentilhommerie pauvre et stupide, as Bismarck once described them—had affected the efficiency of German diplomacy. Feebly attempting to walk in the steps of the Iron Chancellor, they wittingly or unwittingly reversed Bismarck's policy by almost isolating Germany, consolidating its enemies, and then proceeding to attack them simultaneously. This may have been magnificent courage, but it was not wise statecraft. The might of the German sabre was supposed to offset these blundering disciples of Machiavelli.
Russia, England, and France were more fortunate and of their representatives few, if any, shone with greater intellectual distinction or moral courage than M. Jules Cambon. This distinguished diplomat had had exceptional experience in representing his country in various capitals of the world, and the author, who enjoyed the honor of his acquaintance, when he was accredited to Washington, already knew, what the documents in the French Yellow Book so clearly reveal, that Cambon was a diplomat of great intellectual ability. With acute sagacity he grasped the significance of the fateful events, in which he was a participant. To his calm and well-poised intellectuality he added a moral force, resulting from the clear integrity of his purpose and the broad humanity of his aims.
On more than one occasion he spoke "in the name of humanity," and in his constant attempt to convince the German Foreign Office as to its clear duty to civilization to preserve the peace of the world, he became the representative, not merely of France, but of civilization itself.
In this great diplomatic controversy, one of the greatest in the history of the world, the three representatives, who stand out with the greatest intellectual and moral distinction, are Sazonof, Grey, and Cambon.
The first displayed the greatest sagacity in divining from the very outset the real purposes of Germany and Austria and in checkmating the diplomatic moves, which sought to make Russia apparently the aggressor.
Sir Edward Grey's chief merit lay in his unwearying but ineffectual efforts to bring about a peaceful solution of the problem and also in the absolute candor—so unusual in diplomacy—with which he dealt on the one hand with the efforts of Russia and France to align England on their side at the beginning of the quarrel, and on the other, to continue friendly negotiations with Germany and Austria, without in any respect unfairly misleading them as to England's possible ultimate action.
The French Ambassador will justly receive the approval of posterity for the high courage and moral earnestness with which he pressed upon the German Foreign Office the inevitable consequences of its acts.
The first chapter of the French Yellow Book consists largely of communications written from Berlin by M. Jules Cambon in the year 1913. Its most interesting document is his report from Berlin under date November 22, 1913, as to a conversation between the Kaiser and the King of Belgium, with reference to a change in the pacific attitude, which Cambon had previously imputed to the Kaiser.
To the world at large this statement would be more convincing if the source of the information had been disclosed. Those who know M. Jules Cambon, however, will have a reasonable confidence that when he states that he received the record of this conversation "from an absolutely sure source," more than usual credence can be given to the statement. Reading between the lines, the implication is not unreasonable that the source of Cambon's authority was King Albert himself, but this rests only on a plausible conjecture.
The fact that so trained an observer as the French Ambassador had seen in the Kaiser a marked change as early as 1913 is significant, and history may justify Cambon in his shrewd conjecture that "the impatience of the soldiers," meaning thereby the German General Staff, and the growing popularity of his chauvinistic son, the Crown Prince, had appreciably modified the pacific attitude of the Kaiser, which had served the cause of peace so well in the Moroccan crisis. Cambon's recital of the incident in question, written on November 22, 1913, justifies quotation in extenso.
I have received from an absolutely sure source a record of a conversation which is reported between the Emperor and the King of the Belgians, in the presence of the Chief of the General Staff, General von Moltke, a fortnight ago—a conversation which would appear greatly to have struck King Albert. I am in no way surprised by the impression created, which corresponds with that made on me some time ago. Hostility against us is becoming more marked, and the Emperor has ceased to be a partisan of peace. The German Emperor's interlocutor thought up to the present, as did everybody, that William II., whose personal influence has been exerted in many critical circumstances in favor of the maintenance of peace, was still in the same state of mind. This time, it appears, he found him completely changed. The German Emperor is no longer in his eyes the champion of peace against the bellicose tendencies of certain German parties. William II. has been brought to think that war with France is inevitable, and that it will have to come one day or the other. The Emperor, it need hardly be said, believes in the crushing superiority of the German army and in its assured success.
General von Moltke spoke in exactly the same sense as his sovereign. He also declared that war was necessary and inevitable, but he showed himself still more certain of success. "For," said he to the King, "this time we must put an end to it" (cette fois il faut en finir), "and your Majesty can hardly doubt the irresistible enthusiasm which on that day will carry away the whole German people."
The King of the Belgians protested that to interpret the intentions of the French Government in this manner was to travesty them, and to allow oneself to be misled as to the feelings of the French nation by the manifestations of a few hotheads, or of conscienceless intriguers.
The Emperor and his Chief of General Staff none the less persisted in their point of view.
During this conversation the Emperor, moreover, appeared overwrought, and irritable. As the years begin to weigh upon William II. the family traditions, the retrograde feelings of the Court, and, above all, the impatience of the soldiers, are gaining more ascendency over his mind. Perhaps he may feel I know not what kind of jealousy of the popularity acquired by his son, who flatters the passions of the Pan-Germans, and perhaps he may find that the position of the Empire in the world is not commensurate with its power. Perhaps, also, the reply of France to the last increase in the German army, the object of which was to place Germanic superiority beyond question, may count for something in these bitternesses, for whatever one may say it is felt here that the Germans cannot do much more. One may ask what lay behind the conversation. The Emperor and his Chief of General Staff may have intended to impress the King of the Belgians, and to lead him not to resist in case a conflict with us should arise....
[Footnote 37: French Yellow Book, No. 6.]
This picture of the Kaiser is interesting and significant.
Germany's loss of prestige in the Moroccan controversy, due to the Kaiser's unwillingness to precipitate a war at that time and his somewhat diminished popularity with his people, not only accentuated the desire of his military camarilla to find another pretext for a war, but may have modified the Kaiser's resistance to this bellicose policy. Until that time he had been quite content to play the part of Caesar. It may be questioned whether he had previously a real desire to be a Caesar. To describe himself metaphorically as "clad in shining armor" and to shake the "mailed fist" was his constant pose. "And so he played his part." As long as the world was content to take this imperial fustian in a Pickwickian sense, the imperial impresario found the same enjoyment as when he staged Sardanapalus on the boards of the Berlin Theater.
The Kaiser was destined to stage a greater spectacle than the burning of a Babylonian palace. His crowning achievement was to apply the torch to civilization itself.
Prior to 1913 neither his wishes nor plans carried him further than the congenial art of imperial posing. Behind his natural preference for peace was ever the lurking fear that a disastrous war might cost him his throne. The experience of Napoleon the Third was quite too recent to be ignored.
In the Moroccan controversy, the unwillingness of France to assent to all demands and the resolute purpose of England to support its ally, presented a crisis, which could not be met with rhetorical phrases, and the Kaiser found himself confronted with a situation, in which a very considerable number of thoughtful and influential Germans favored an immediate appeal to arms, and as to which only his word was wanted to precipitate hostilities in 1911.
The Kaiser at that time failed to meet the expectations of those who had expected a more warlike attitude from the knight "clad in shining armor," and the expression "William the Peaceful" was bandied about with increasing contempt by the war party in Germany, whose passions the Crown Prince—not unwilling to push his royal father prematurely from the pedestal of popularity—was assiduously fanning.
While the fact cannot yet be regarded as established, the writer believes that the future may indubitably show that the Kaiser did have full knowledge of the Austrian ultimatum in advance of its issuance and gave his consent to the policy of that coup in the hope that it would somewhat restore his diminished prestige. He probably followed this policy in the confident expectation that Russia would yield, as it had yielded in 1908 in the Bosnian incident, and when he discovered in Norway that Russia, while willing to maintain peace upon any reasonable terms, was not disposed to surrender all its legitimate interests in the Servian question, he, as will be more fully narrated in the next chapter, hurried back to Berlin and for a time attempted to reverse the policy and bring about a peaceful adjustment.
Unfortunately this attempt came too late. His military camarilla had determined upon war. Preparations were then being feverishly made, and the German and Austrian chancelleries were steadily and deliberately shutting the door upon any possibility of peace.
To withdraw under these circumstances from an untenable position meant a substantial impairment of his already diminished prestige. A Washington would have saved the situation, but the Kaiser was not a Washington.
Another most illuminating feature of this chapter of the Yellow Book is a report from the French Embassy in Berlin to its Foreign Office on the public opinion of Germany in the summer of 1913, as disclosed by the reports of the French consular representatives in Germany. It gives an extraordinary analysis of conditions in Germany prior to the war, and it describes in great fullness the many causes which were contributory to the creation of a powerful war party in Germany. As it is not in strictness a part of the diplomatic record, it is not embodied in the text of this book, but its value as an acute analysis of conditions in Germany—made before the passions of the war had clouded the judgment—will repay the reader's careful consideration.
The second chapter of the French Yellow Book deals with the events which took place between the murder of the Archduke and the Austrian ultimatum and presents new and cumulative evidence of substantial value.
The French Consul General at Budapest, in a report to his Foreign Office under date July 11, 1914, after showing that the Hungarian Premier, Count Tisza, had refused to disclose, even to the Hungarian Chamber, the results of the judicial inquiry into the Serajevo murder and the decision taken by the Austrian Cabinet, proceeds to show how the suppression of the news in Austria was a part of the scheme to make the ultimatum to Servia so abrupt and speedy that no course would be open to Servia and Europe other than an immediate and unconditional surrender.
Everything is for peace in the newspapers, but the mass of the public believes in war and fears it.... The Government, whether it be seriously desirous of peace, or whether it be preparing a coup, is now doing everything it can to allay this anxiety. That is why the tone of the Government newspapers has been lowered first, by one note and then by two, until now it has become almost optimistic. But the Government newspapers themselves have carefully spread the alarm. Their optimism to order is really without an echo. The nervousness of the Bourse, a barometer one cannot neglect, is a sure proof of that. Stocks, without exception, have fallen to improbably low prices. The Hungarian four per cent. was yesterday quoted at 79.95, a price which has never been quoted since the first issue.
[Footnote 38: French Yellow Book, No. 11.]
Simultaneously a very different note was sounded by the organ of the military party in Vienna. The Militaerische Rundschau, a few days before the ultimatum to Servia, said:
"The moment is still favorable for us. If we do not decide upon war, the war we shall have to make in two or three years at the latest will be begun in circumstances much less propitious; now the initiative belongs to us. Russia is not ready, the moral factors are for us, might as well as right. Since some day we shall have to accept the struggle, let us provoke it at once."
[Footnote 39: Ibid., No. 12.]
Before the Austrian ultimatum was issued there had been some preliminary informal negotiations between Austria and Servia and the latter had expressed its willingness to give to Austria the most ample reparation "provided that she did not demand judiciary cooperation," and the Servian Minister at Berlin warned "the German Government that it would be dangerous to endeavor by this inquiry (i.e., by the participation of Austrian officials in the courts of Servia) to damage the prestige of Servia."
[Footnote 40: French Yellow Book, No. 15.]
It thus appears that Austria and Germany had warning in advance of the issuance of the ultimatum that if this humiliating demand were included it would meet with refusal. Their intention to precipitate this war or impose their will upon Europe may therefore be measured by the fact that, with full knowledge that that particular demand would not be accepted, it was made a leading feature of the ultimatum, and finally became the principal outstanding difference after Servia had accepted substantially all the other demands of Austria. This was reported by Cambon to his Foreign Office two days before the ultimatum was issued and at that time Germany was fully advised as to the one demand, which Servia could not in justice to its sovereignty accept. In the same letter, Cambon advises his Foreign Office that Germany had already issued the "preliminary warning of mobilization, which places Germany in a sort of garde-a-vous during periods of tension."
[Footnote 41: Ibid., No. 15.]
A further corroboration of Germany's knowledge of the Austrian ultimatum before its issuance is found in a report of the French Minister at Munich to the French Foreign Office, written on the day when the Austrian ultimatum was issued, and a full day before it reached any capital except Berlin and Belgrade. He writes:
The Bavarian Press appears to believe that a peaceful solution of the Austro-Servian incident is not only possible but even probable. Official circles, on the contrary, for some time past, have displayed with more or less sincerity positive pessimism.
The Prime Minister notably said to me to-day that the Austrian note, of which he had cognizance, was in his opinion drawn up in terms acceptable to Servia, but that the present situation appeared to him none the less to be very grave.
[Footnote 42: French Yellow Book, No. 21.]
As it is unlikely that the Austrian Government would have dealt directly with the Bavarian Government without similar communications to the German Foreign Office, it follows as a strong probability that the German Foreign Office and probably each of the constituent States of Germany knew on July the 23d that Austria intended to demand that which Servia had previously indicated its unalterable determination to refuse. Under these circumstances the repeated and insistent assurances that the German Foreign Office gave to England, France, and Russia that it "had no knowledge of the text of the Austrian note before it was handed in and had not exercised any influence on its contents" presents a policy of deception unworthy of a great nation or of the twentieth century.
[Footnote 43: Ante, p. 36.]
It regarded this policy of submarine diplomacy as necessary, not only to throw the other nations off their guard while Germany was arming, but also to support its contention that the quarrel between Servia and Austria was a local quarrel. If it appeared that Germany had instigated Austria in its course, it could not have supported its first contention that the quarrel was a local one and it could not reasonably dispute the right of Russia to intervene. For this purpose the fable was invented. It deceived no one.
The French Yellow Book discloses another even more amazing feature of this policy of deception, for it shows on the authority of the Italian Foreign Minister that Germany and Austria did not even take their own ally into their confidence. The significance of this fact cannot be overestimated. Nothing in the whole record more clearly demonstrates the purpose of the German and Austrian diplomats to set a trap for the rest of Europe.
Under the terms of the Triple Alliance it was the duty of each member to submit to its associates all matters which might involve the possibility of joint cooperation. Even if this had not been written in the very terms of the Alliance, it would follow as a necessary implication, for when each member obligated itself to cooperate with its allies in any attack upon either of them, but not in any aggressive war, it necessarily followed that each ally had the right to the fullest information as to any controversy which might involve such action, so that it might determine whether it fell within the terms of the obligation.
Neither the German nor the Austrian Foreign Office have ever submitted any documentary proof that they discharged this obligation to their ally and it may be added they have never pretended that they did so.
If further proof were needed, we find in the French Yellow Book a report from the French Minister at Rome to his Foreign Office, under date July the 27th, reporting a conversation between the French Minister and the Italian Foreign Minister, the Marquis di San Giuliano, on that day, in which the latter spoke of the
contents of the Austrian note, and assured me that he had had no previous knowledge of them whatever.
He was well aware that the note was to be vigorous and energetic in character, but he had no idea that it could take such a form. I asked him if it was true, as is stated in certain newspapers, that in this connection he had expressed in Vienna approval of Austrian action, and had given the assurance that Italy would fulfill her duties as an ally towards Austria. He replied, "In no way have we been consulted; we have been told nothing whatever. We have therefore had no reason to make any communication of this nature in Vienna."
[Footnote 44: French Yellow Book, No. 72.]
The reason for this secrecy is not far to seek. Almost a year before the Archduke's death, Austria had sounded Italy as to its willingness to acquiesce or participate in a war by Austria against Servia, and Italy had refused. For this reason and also because an Austrian war against Servia was not to the interests of Italy, Austria and Germany both recognized, without even consulting their ally, that they could not count upon its cooperation in such a war. To submit their proposed action to Italy was to invite a deliberate expression of disapproval, and this would make it more difficult for them to demand its cooperation, if they could carry out their policy of so flouting Russia as to compel it to initiate an aggressive war, as they clearly hoped to do.
There was, however, another and very practical reason for this failure to consult their ally. We have seen that the whole policy of the Austrian ultimatum was founded upon secrecy. The plan was to give to Europe no possible intimation of the intended action until it was accomplished and then to give to Europe only twenty-four hours within which to deliberate or act. If as a matter of courtesy Austria and Germany submitted to their ally their proposed course of action, Italy, being wholly opposed to any such unprovoked attack upon Servia, might find a way, either by open and public protest or by dropping a confidential intimation, to advise the other countries as to what was in preparation. This would defeat the principal purpose of Germany and Austria, to force a quick decision and to prepare for eventualities before any other country could make ready. Germany and Austria therefore wholly ignored their ally and pursued their stealthy policy to its discreditable end.
When their diplomatic communications are disclosed in full, this feature of their policy may disclose some significant admissions.
We have already seen (ante, p. 35) that when on July the 20th, three days before the Austrian ultimatum was issued, Sir Edward Grey asked Prince Lichnowsky, the German Ambassador in London, as to what news he had from Vienna with reference to the intentions of his country, Prince Lichnowsky affected to be ignorant. But it appears from a letter, which M. Paul Cambon wrote to his Foreign Office on July the 24th, 1914, that Prince Lichnowsky had returned to London from Berlin about a month before and had "displayed pessimistic views as to the relations between St. Petersburg and Berlin." Cambon adds that the English Foreign Office and his other diplomatic colleagues had all been struck "by the anxious appearance of Prince Lichnowsky since his return from Berlin."
[Footnote 45: The French Ambassador at London.]
[Footnote 46: French Yellow Book, No. 32.]
So designedly was the Austrian ultimatum withheld from the chancelleries of Europe, other than Vienna and Berlin, that on the day following its issuance at Belgrade, the only information which M. Jules Cambon had of its issuance were the extracts in the press, and he thereupon saw the German Secretary of State and asked him whether such an ultimatum had been sent.
Herr von Jagow replied affirmatively, adding that the note was energetic, and that he approved it, the Servian Government having long since exhausted Austrian patience. He considers, moreover, that for Austria the question is one of a domestic nature, and he hopes that it will be localized. I then said to him that, not having received any instructions, I only wished to have with him an entirely personal exchange of views. I then asked him if the Berlin Cabinet had really been in complete ignorance of the Austrian claims before they were communicated to Belgrade, and as he replied that this was so, I expressed my surprise that he should thus undertake to support pretensions, the limit and nature of which he ignored.
"It is only," said Herr von Jagow, interrupting me, "because we are talking personally between ourselves that I allow you to say that to me."
"Certainly," I replied, "but if Peter I. humiliates himself Servia will probably be given over to internal troubles. That will open the door to fresh possibilities, and do you know where Vienna will lead you?" I added that the language of the German Press was not that of a people who were indifferent and foreign to the affair, but told of active support. Finally, I remarked that the shortness of the time given to Servia in which to yield would make a bad impression upon Europe.